Energy / FirstEnergy

FirstEnergy makes big push for ‘zero emission credits’

The Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station (Credit: NRC)

AKRON — “The cost of supporting some of the region’s aging nuclear power plants might be about to land on the bills of Ohio ratepayers, and that might include the cost of subsidizing a nuclear plant in Pennsylvania owed by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp.

The firm is desperately hoping that Ohio legislators will take action this year to help it either maintain or sell off its nuclear fleet, which includes the Perry Nuclear Power Plant and the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station near Toledo, and a facility in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

‘We’ve been engaged with legislators talking about the potential for some type of legislation in Ohio, to recognize the unique value that nuclear brings to the state,’ said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young, who counted jobs, low pollution output and diversity of the state’s energy portfolio among the benefits her company is touting.

What FirstEnergy wants, she said, is some form of what’s known as zero emission credits, which would give money to the operators of nuclear plants as a sort of bonus for producing electricity with little to no carbon or other pollution.

It’s a bit like a carbon tax in reverse: Instead of levying a tax on electricity producers that emit carbon, the credits reward competing sources of power that do not produce significant amounts of carbon.

Many of the same folks opposed to a carbon tax — developers of new gas-fired powered plants and some environmentalists — are decrying FirstEnergy’s attempt to get a nuclear bailout. They say such a bailout would artificially increase electricity cost for the benefit of one company over others, or promote what they see as an unsafe form of power instead of renewables like wind and solar.”

— Dan Shingler, Crain’s Cleveland Business

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